Comments about the proposed extraction of water from Lough Derg to supply Dublin have raised further concerns about the project in Nenagh. The fears came after Bord na Mona said it was close to submitting its planning application for a massive reservoir at Garryhinch Bog outside Mountmellick, which would form part of the extraction plan.
The semi-State board’s chief executive officer Gabriel D’Arcy was quoted in the national media as saying the recent drought illustrated the need for such a facilty, with water restrictions in the Midland counties at present.
However, Nenagh councillor Virgina O’Dowd has queried Mr D’Arcy bringing the Midland counties into the equation.
“This is a shift. The plan was always to take water from Lough Derg to supply the Greater Dublin Area. There has never been any mention of bringing water to the Midlands,” she said.
The areas concerned, apart from Dublin itself, were east Kildare, north Wicklow and south Meath.
She said: “I believe the supporters of this proposal feel it had taken a Dublin versus the country twist and now they want it to become a rural versus rural issue to take the focus away from Dublin.
“I now suspect that the initial proposal was a cover-up and that if the reservoir goes ahead, more pipes will be installed to cover the Midlands, with Irish Water, who will eventually run the facility, making vast profits.
“Where will it all end if Dublin can take water from Lough Derg to make up for water shortages in other counties. Who will turn the pipeline off so we don’t end up suffering from low pressure and water shortages?” she asked.
The Bord na Mona plan is for a reservoir for 12bn cubic metres of water that would also function as a tourist attraction, with sailing and angling.
However, Cllr O’Dowd said: “We already have such a tourist attraction. It is called Lough Derg.”
She also questioned why it was felt there was a need to concentrate industry on the East Coast, disputing the argument that Dublin should be the sole eeconomic driver for Ireland.
“Why bring water to Dublin to serve new industries when they could be located in the Mid-West, bringing much needed jobs here. We have the water. We have the infrastructure with Shannon Airport and motorways. We have the graduates coming out of UL and LIT, along with the research facilities,” she said.
A spokesperson for Bord na Mona said that following a population review the scope of the initial project was expanded to the Midlands, including Laois, Offaly and Westmeath. This would mean the project would cover 10 local authority areas.
The spokesperson maintained the plan always included the Midlands and there was “nothing new” in Mr D’Arcy’s comments.
If the plan goes ahead, it could take up to seven years before it is fully built.